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Get Your Head into the Clouds 

The first speaker in ONDA's 2020 High Desert series spends a lot of time looking up

Mark your calendars, now! On Feb. 11, from 7 to 8:30 pm, the Oregon Natural Desert Association is starting off its 2020 High Desert Speakers Series with a program on clouds.

Yes, clouds: those magnificent bodies of moisture and dust that often float by us at altitude carrying tiny droplets of water or ice and at times causing a lot of excitement, like, "Oh, no! Bring in the wash!"

Standing lenticular clouds over the Cascades. - JIM ANDERSON
  • Jim Anderson
  • Standing lenticular clouds over the Cascades.

How do clouds take shape? Is there an easy way to learn their confusing Latin names? How can you look at clouds in a new way on your next outdoor adventure?

You can take a deep dive into the clouds over Oregon's high desert with author and naturalist Maria Mudd Ruth. Get to know clouds in a brand-new light, hear about unparalleled viewing opportunities and explore the water system that supports life from the banks of desert rivers all the way to the sagebrush steppe and beyond.

As a child Mudd Ruth paid little attention to the clouds floating by her home. Suddenly, she became aware of them and involved herself in everything she could find out about those fluffy sky features.

She discovered there wasn't much information available on cloud formations, so she read every book she could find on the subject, consulted with meteorologists and started taking photos of nearly every cloud she saw. As a result, she is now an expert on the whys and wherefores of clouds and is keen to share her knowledge.

click to enlarge Maria Mudd Ruth, author and storyteller, will take you into the clouds of the Northwest Feb. 11 at the Tower Theatre. - JIM DAVIS
  • Jim Davis
  • Maria Mudd Ruth, author and storyteller, will take you into the clouds of the Northwest Feb. 11 at the Tower Theatre.

Mudd Ruth is the author of more than a dozen natural history books, including, "Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet." Her latest book, "A Sideways Look at Clouds" (Mountaineers Books, September 2017) is a work of narrative nonfiction that blends science, wonder and humor and takes her readers on the scenic route through the clouds.

Mudd Ruth's goal in her cloud talk will be to encourage people to look up! She knows from her own experience how much we miss when we forget to look up and see all that is going on over our heads.

Here in the Northwest, we have weather patterns that bring us a wonderful diversity of cloud formations, including lenticular clouds. This old Glider pilot and flight instructor can tell you about "Lennies" that are formed by powerful winds aloft slamming into mountains creating long clouds of ice. While the front side (leading edge) of those "standing waves of ice" move over the summit of a mountain, the tumbling air on the back side can tear the wings off an aircraft.

Mudd Ruth will spend the evening telling you about her personal adventures with the diversity of clouds she has encountered in her lifetime, including what life would be like if we didn't have these magnificent vessels carrying moisture to the life we share on this beautiful planet, Earth.

High Desert Speaker Series: The Remarkable Clouds Over Oregon's High Desert
Tue., Feb. 11. 7-8:30pm
Tower Theatre
835 NW Wall St., Bend

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